When scrolling through social media I encountered the news of a new musical soundtrack titled ‘The Rhythmics’ which promised to be a new life-affirming musical. This album was produced by the powerhouse musical team of Metta Theatre and Aria Entertainment with book and lyrics by Metta’s Artistic Director Poppy Burton-Morgan, and music & lyrics from Ben Glasstone. The first thing I noticed about this show is that it was billed as a hybrid of the full month and calendar girls (both of which are shows I have previously reviewed) as it follows a group of people coming together to achieve something out of their comfort zones. The songs themselves are very similar to calendar girls in the sense that they are stripped bare and incredibly accessible to everyone. Despite this, I think a more apt description for the show would be full monty if it was t about stripping and a lot less nudity but instead was about rhythmic gymnastics (which is where the name of the show is derived from.)
This musical explores the crisis of masculinity that many men face in the modern-day by portraying a collection of men who explore a traditionally female profession. After Grey, the lead character (voiced by Neil McDermott) falls into a rut he is encouraged by his daughter to chase his dreams he once had. This leads to him auditioning for a position in “Nick and the Rhythmics” thinking it is a rock band but quickly realised it is an all-male rhythmic gymnastic trope that proves to be very successful. The entire show is set in the real-world and follows a logical narrative which only helps to make the narrative even more accessible for the audience. The conflict between the traditionally female sport with the all-male group leads to many comedic scenes and I get the impression that the audience will be laughing throughout the show which allows them to leave the theatre to feel better than when they walked into it which is the sign of a great show. The main theme of the show is battling toxic masculinity and encourages men to talk about their emotions (through the more heart-wrenching songs) but also to not take themselves so seriously.
As I have already discussed the musicals numbers in this soundtrack are more subdued and relaxed (similar to those of the Calendar Girls) with very few super high energy numbers. Mr Independent is a fun song which discusses how man oftentimes alienates themselves and want to do everything by themselves. This song has a lovely guitar riff played throughout and I really hope that Grey actually plays the guitar live as there are references to a guitar as a prop but there is nothing I hate more than a guitar being used as a prop and not being played/mining the playing actions. Another highlight for me was “Got your back” which is a very moving and emotional song that showcases all the performers perfectly. All the voices in this number blended beautifully together to make a song that is very easy to listen to with an important message. My favourite part of the show was the inclusion and reference to sign language which is fantastic for both representation and anyone who is hard-hearing that is watching the show. The creative team for this show had thought of the possibility of a deaf audience which shows a well-throughout plan for the show. The final few songs are fantastic as they specifically target the idea of the competitiveness that some male posses. “Life’s not a competition” and “we didn’t come to win” both discuss not comparing yourself to others and encourages everyone to just have fun no matter what they partake in. I do wish that the final number in this musical was a super feel-good number that I could visualise the group of guys performing a hilarious rhythmic gymnastics complete with ribbons.
Overall, this is a hyper-realistic , relatable and accessible musical that battles the super important issue of toxic masculinity that is never really talked about in musical theatre. I imagine it’s a super fun show crammed full of feel-good moments but the music is so accessible that it does at times become somewhat simple. I would rate this musical 3.5 stars out of 5 and would recommend it to any fans of fully Monty or Calendar Girls!